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£20m in fees to be repaid in music licensing battle

18 February, 2010

A consortium of businesses including ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has claimed a victory for shops today after an appeal from the music licensing body PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) was rejected by the high court.


The Copyright Tribunal originally ruled in favour of shops and other interested parties in October 2009 over PPL, who introduced excessive licensing charges in 2005. However, PPL appealed this decision and the case was sent to the High Court.
The Hon Mr Justice Arnold once again ruled in favour of the consortium and rejected all points raised by PPL. As a result, PPL will have to refund all retailers who have overpaid for their license since 2005. The new tariffs will be measured by square metres on a banding system, bringing significant cost reductions for local shops.
The rates previously imposed by PPL saw tariffs for music shops raise by as much as 192%, while tariffs for pubs and restaurants were raised by up to 419%. The new rates will be based on 2005 levels plus an inflation based increase.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are delighted that the High Court has recognised the unsustainable increases that PPL have tried to inflict on our members and the hospitality industry. We now hope that PPL will act quickly to refund those licence payers who paid over the odds to offer background music to their customers in stores.
“We are very pleased to have supported this case and in doing so have helped secure significant re-payments and future savings for our members.”
Retailers could benefit from up to £20million in overpaid fees, as well as savings of around £5million per year. ACS will be briefing members in due course on how they can reclaim their overpaid fees.